Wheels spin: Mazda CX-5 GT 2019 Review

An evergreen carpark of rides at Wheels HQ gives us the perfect opportunity to take our readers for a Wheels spin - short, sharp and to the point.

Head Jpg

What’s in the garage?

It’s a bit of a staple in the Wheels garage this week. The Mazda CX-5 is one of Australia’s favourite family SUVs and we’d recently booked it for a big comparison review that you’ll see in the June issue. Subscribers and regular readers will have quite something to look forward to there, but in the meantime, we thought we’d bring you a quick review on this upspec all-wheel drive CX-5 GT.

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What we reckon

Cameron Kirby
Staff Journalist
While no one is buying a mid-size SUV for its performance credentials, the new 2.5-litre turbo gives the CX-5 some much needed punch off the line for buyers that prefer petrol over diesel. But where this spec CX-5 really excels is by providing a premium feel, for a mainstream cost. Sitting in the cabin is a comfortable, almost luxurious, experience, with supreme everyday liveability. Truly the Golden Retriever of SUVs.

Andy Enright
Deputy Editor
Mazdas seem to share a common DNA in the way they tackle a road, aside from the CX-5. It’s the one car in Hiroshima’s line up that I’ve never really bonded with in terms of ride and handling. That said, I can certainly see why it’s so popular as most family buyers aren’t really interested in the finer nuances of cornering dynamics. For them, practical considerations like features, reliability, practicality and value are far higher up the priority list and the CX-5 certainly doesn’t disappoint there. My question to Mazda is why can’t we have both?

Alex Rae
Online Editor
Despite nearly double the torque output of many others in class, the CX-5 remains polite and tidy on throttle response and is in no way unwieldly. It remains polite everywhere else; the interior is well presented, it’s roomy front and back, and looks pretty sharp on the road despite nearing the end of its current generation. The boot’s a bit small – an oddity for vehicles as big as SUVs – but it’s mostly well-bred.
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Specs and compared to rivals


Mazda CX-5 GT

Kia  Sportage GT Line

Honda CR-V VTi-LX






2.5L turbo 4cyl

2.4L turbo 4cyl

1.5L turbo 4cyl






6spd AT

6spd AT






Efficiency (combined)








ANCAP rating

5 star

5 star

5 star


5 years/unlimited

7 years/unlimited

5 years/unlimited

Service Interval

12 months/10,000km

6 months/10,000km

12 months/10,000km





Wheel size

225/55 R19

245/45 R19

235/60 R18

Boot space
























Towing capacity braked




Front suspension

MacPherson strut

MacPherson strut

MacPherson strut

Rear suspension




Country of origin






Power and performance

The 2.5-litre turbo lump plumbed into the business end of this CX-5 is a great leveller. Compared to the better of its rivals posted here, it enjoys a monster 180Nm torque advantage. That means that you’ll rarely have to extend it in order to extract crisp acceleration. Overtaking manoeuvres can be performed safely and swiftly, your fuel consumption isn’t going to be devastated by tapping into that surge of torque, and the CX-5’s towing ability is in excess of many cars in the next class up.

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Should you really want to give the car everything off the line, Mazda reckons it’ll accelerate from zip to 100km/h in little over seven seconds, which is plenty. Fuel it up with 98RON juice and the computer map will let you have 186kW. While six gears in the automatic transmission seems the bare minimum these days, such is the spread of torque available, that you really don’t hanker after more ratios. The CX-5 GT has you covered here. The CX-5’s issue with holding a gear too long in Sport mode is also addressed, with a broad spread of torque from just 2000rpm meaning that the car upshifts a little earlier and sounds a good deal more refined as a result.

The CX-5 GT wears its all-wheel drive credentials lightly, and with a modest 200mm of ground clearance and decidedly road-biased tyres (like all of its rivals in this class) it’s more suited to safety and security on wet roads and dirt tracks than crossing the Simpson.  

Ride and handling

Bushes, ball joints and anti-roll bars have all been optimised for the fitment of the powerful 2.5-litre engine, while clever G-Vectoring Control Plus technology automatically feathers the throttle and brakes while cornering to boost stability. The CX-5 still doesn’t quite feel all of a piece through bends in quite the same way as the best handling cars in this sector, but it nevertheless offers acceptable ride quality for such a powerful vehicle on such low profile rubber. The steering is generally low effort and there’s not too much in the way of annoying head-too on well-surfaced roads, but you do get a bit of bump and thump feeding back into the cabin from the suspension.

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Interior and comfort

As we’ve seen from the new Mazda 3 and CX-30 models, the company is starting to talk a subtly different design language and the CX-5 feels like the last of the old cabin architecture. Ergonomically, it still holds up, but some of the details can look a bit staid. The lack of a digital speedo and the small infotainment screen might turn a few buyers off, but everything is easy to operate and the controls are ergonomically sound. The colour palette’s not the most exciting though.

There’s a decent amount of space inside too, with the 40/20/40 rear bench allowing a stack of flexibility and an almost flat boot floor. The sloping tailgate nibbles into ultimate boot space which, at 442 litres, is far from the best in class. Levers to drop the rear seats on both sides of the luggage bay are a thoughtful touch, as is the cargo cover that clips onto the tailgate.

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Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on offer, so smartphone mirroring shouldn’t be an issue, but you will have to put up with the faff of cables. A Bose 10 speaker stereo is fitted as standard to the GT and it’s fairly good, while a multitude of stowage points, a pair of rear air vents, a reclining rear seat and chubby seat bolsters all count in the GT’s favour.

The front seats are simple and supportive, whereas the rear two pews are thin fold-flat supports that will likely serve most time out of the way so that the diminutive 85L ‘boot’ can claim some extra space. At least the seats are ISOFIX compatible and there’s decent legroom for small kids.



Sales of the CX-5 here in Australia have demonstrated that Mazda has been able to forensically dissect just what domestic buyers want. The GT might be at the sportier end of the CX-5 range, but it still adheres to that formula. Should you want a car that ticks all of the family boxes but gives you a world of options beneath your right clog, the 2.5-litre turbocharged CX-5 GT certainly earns a solid recommendation to us. Our only caveats are that it could perhaps ride better and/or steer a little more adroitly. Given what we’ve seen of the next-gen Mazdas, we wonder if this car will also date quicker than Hiroshima might hope. The family fundamentals are so good, however, that a CX-5 GT 2.5 turbo will remain in strong demand.


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